September 2011: the eyes of the rally world are on the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), which has just completed its tenth round in Australia and is returning to Europe to start preparations for the Rally France. In just a few days, Dani Sordo will thrill MINI fans with an excellent second place. During these days, very little attention is being paid to events in Italy. Only the most dedicated of fans have entered the Rally dell’Ossola in their diaries. And yet, with a starting field boasting 128 teams, this regional rally is anything but a small affair. Among the starters is Piero Longhi, who has been particularly looking forward to the Rally dell’Ossola, as this is where the Italian Rally Champion of 2000 and 2005 will present his new baby: the MINI John Cooper Works WRC.
Since his first rally back in 1986, Piero has been behind the wheel of a number of different makes of car. However, when MINI returned to the WRC stage in the spring of 2011 it was time for him to switch makes again. MINI? Why not? It was a decision that Piero has never regretted. Making his debut in the MINI WRC, Piero took the Rally dell’Ossola by storm, sprinting to first place at the first attempt. The perfect start for the experienced rally driver, whose made his first appearance in the WRC came at the Rally Monte Carlo in 1991 and since has nine WRC events under his belt. The MINI WRC proved emphatically what it was capable of at the Rally dell‘Ossola.
It is just ten months since Piero’s MINI debut. However, that still makes him one of the most experienced drivers behind the wheel of the MINI WRC. While many international private teams were still filling out the order forms for their MINI John Cooper Works WRC, Piero was already travelling from one rally to the next in the MINI WRC. He now has eight starts with MINI to his name, and Piero’s record could hardly be more impressive. Five times Piero has climbed onto the podium. Following his win at the Rally dell’Ossola, he claimed another overall victory at the Rally di Adria in March 2012. Piero has also finished runner-up three times in a row in the International Rally Cup recently: at the Rally de Taro in May, the Rally Prealpi Orobiche at the start of June, and the Rally del Casentino last weekend. he currently lies fourth in the International Rally Cup.
Piero will line up in his MINI WRC at two more events in this season’s International Rally Cup: the Rally Valli Cuneesi on 24th
August and the Rally di Bassano on 28th
September. If nothing else, MINI fans should pick up their pens and mark the Rally Valli Cuneesi in their diaries. Why? Because the WRC will be in Germany at the same time and might just distract from Piero’s next stellar performance. Nobody should miss out on highlights like these.
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